Is succession planning part of your business plan?

Do you develop and mentor your employees to be the next leaders? 

To keep a business running successfully, then there is a very important need to have succession planning in place. What happens if one of your key managers / directors decides to leave or retires? Who do you have in place to take on this role who already knows your business and what challenges they must face to keep everything running smoothly without any detriment to the business?

If you don’t have this in place then you will be faced with having to recruit outside of your business which will not only cost you money, but also take up a lot of time to go through the whole recruitment, on-boarding and training process. There are some excellent businesses that I work with in this region who have fantastic training and development programmes, where they train their employees to be the next leaders. They do this by spotting who the self motivated and ambitious employees are either at interview or during their appraisals.

There are a few key questions you can ask at an interview that will help to show you who the self motivated and ambitious candidates are:.

How would you describe a typical working day?

This is a really common question to ask but do you ask it with the objective of looking at the candidate and their productivity?
What you should be looking out for with this question, is whether the candidate has a clear structure to their day. People who can structure their day, and assign certain routines and processes, are usually the most productive. For instance, many people will spend the first 10-20 minutes of their morning responding to emails and planning their day ahead.

Tell me about a time when you reached a goal

Another thing to look at is whether the candidate refers to results and outcomes in their interview answers. Certain interview questions will give the candidate the opportunity to do this, for example, “can you talk about a time when you reached your goal?” or “what’s your biggest achievement?” A candidate who can talk extensively about the tangible results of their hard work will likely be a candidate who makes the best use of their time because they constantly have the end goal in mind.

How do you focus in a distracting environment?

In an age where our phones don’t stop buzzing and our desktop alerts don’t stop popping up, it can often be hard to focus on the task at hand. This can be even harder if you work in a busy environment with multiple conversations happening across the room at once, or if you have a lot of conflicting responsibilities and demands. Workplace distractions are the biggest hindrance to productivity. Ask your candidate how they respond to these distractions.

Productive employees could have certain techniques which may help them to focus, whether it’s focusing on one task at a time or making a conscious effort not to get distracted by office chatter. They will also know that regular breaks, keeping hydrated and eating properly are all conducive to productivity and focus.

How do you prioritise your tasks?

Productive and self-managed candidates will usually have their own system for prioritising their tasks, which will include deciding what to complete straight away, what to add to a to-do list and how they prioritise the tasks on this to do list.  However, if the candidate struggles to answer this question, or fails to include any of the above points, then chances are they are not used to prioritising their own workload, therefore won’t be as productive in making sure it gets completed.

Can you tell me about a time that you took initiative?

Most companies should be hiring employees who take the initiative and feel confident in introducing their own ideas. These types of employees will take the initiative to think about new and better ways of doing things, for the sake of improved productivity and output. Can this interviewee describe a time that they drove forward a positive change which improved efficiency and results within the business?

How do you maintain a good work-life balance?

The above answers should give you an insight into whether the candidate knows how to make an efficient use of their time. As contrary as it may seem, workaholics do not make for productive employees. Whilst there may be times that working extra hours is necessary, most of the time, working smart and not hard is the key to productivity. If the candidate has a good work-life balance, then they will also have the approach of working smart, not hard, and will be able to talk about their hobbies, interests, social life and how they switch off from work.